Study Guide

The Miser Tone

By Molière

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Ridiculous, Hyperbolic

As the word hyperbolic suggests, this play is filled with a ton of hyperbole, most of it used by the character Harpagon. When he finds out his precious money-box is missing at the end of Act 4, for example, he throws down lines like "Villain, give me back my money! Oh, it's me! I'm losing my mind, I don't know where I am, who I am or what I'm doing" (4.7.1).

We, of course, are meant to laugh at Harpagon's ridiculous obsession with his money. Harpagon's over-the-top tone turns him into a hysterical child in front of our eyes and gives us a handy-dandy moral: we should never be like him. If you love money more than anything else, you're going to dissolve into a ridonkculous caricature, and people are going to say things to you like, "According to one chap, you once had the law on a neighbour's cat for eating up the leftovers from a leg of mutton" (3.1.78).

Uh, yeah. That little antic sounds more than a tad cray.

For a great interpretation of how crazy Harpagon's language is, and just how ridiculously off-the-wall he is, check out this guy.

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